When planning a ritual involving children, I always have to remind myself to keep it short and simple! Just in time for Spring Equinox, I’d like to share the simple ritual of spring welcome that is perfect for family or a small group of friends. This ritual is designed to be done at night around a campfire and to be followed by a drum circle, but can easily be adapted to day time (perhaps with a fresh flower mandala to gather around instead of a fire). It can take place anytime between March 21 and May 1 and still feel seasonally appropriate.
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Already in Salt Lake City we could see that the sun was moving away towards a darker time of the year, even against the dazzling sunset backdrop of mountain peaks in the distance. I had dreamed since 1993 of attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions, not realizing that I would have taken on a whole new religious identity by the time I got to attend my first one this October. So immersed had I become in that path that I was invited to play the role of Isis in a ceremony honoring many of the traditional goddesses who have been worshiped around the world, from Amaterasu to Kali to Oshun and Brigid. Read more about Goddesses Alive here. For each of us costumed as a goddess, including a fabulous mask by noted artist Lauren Raine, there was no script. Our task was to be the goddess while narrators and music set the ambience for an audience sitting in the round.
In the weeks leading up to this performance I was focused on logistics: my first wig (think Donna Summer); jewelry, robe, choreography. I will not in this lifetime ever again resemble the willowy figure of Egyptian paintings, and I had no intention of wearing a tight, transparent sheath, so I opted for a shimmering loose caftan. Then two days before our flight I fell, twisting and breaking my ankle. Choreography would be limited to arm gestures and it was anyone’s guess whether I would be able to perform sans wheelchair....
One of the secrets of horse whispering is to widen your focus: to be on the horizon as you are also with the horse standing in front of you. Why? Because that is what horses do all the time. This gives horses that mystical presence that we like to cuddle up against, groom, or ride.
Horses never left their soul. Soul Retrieval is about finding this back in your life.
I needed in my life to research into what it means to be a woman. I went right back to the roots of our culture, and found a field of wisdom and love. The Sacred Feminine. It was more than intellectual research, it was a true journey of initiation. And I initiated many others. I have come to understand my soul is my personal connection to this field, but it IS also the field...it's like a drop which contains the whole ocean.
The ancient Minoans had a lot of opportunities for what I like to call Big Ritual. The priesthood of the temples at Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and Zakro put on Mystery plays for the public, enacting stories from Minoan mythology at the solstice and equinoxes as well as at other festival dates. The cave shrines and peak sanctuaries were staffed by priestesses and priests who provided ceremonies for the public at the sacred times throughout the year. The more important inhabitants of the towns even had the prospect of attending large rituals within the temples themselves. But we modern folks don’t generally have access to that sort of event.
Sure, we have our altars and shrines at home, just as the Minoans and other ancient peoples did. But sitting in meditation with an altar is its own special kind of activity and doesn’t push the same buttons, if you see what I mean, as Big Ritual does....
The magnificent rock paintings of the Kimberly range in northwestern Australia are among the most ancient in the world, going back tens of thousands of years. Radiocarbon dating of a fossilized wasp nest built over one painting places the nest itself at more than 17,000 years ago, so that the painting must be older -- possibly much older -- than that. Aboriginal people in this region call the paintings, or rather the Beings in them, Gwion Gwion, Giro Giro, and other names.
While making my Woman Shaman dvd, I did a lot of research on rock art around the world. These paintings grabbed my attention, not only because of their tremendous beauty, but because they show dance and ceremonial regalia. Aboriginal tradition says they represent ancestral Beings of the Dreamtime. Because human ceremony celebrates these beings, and reenacts their primordial creative acts, we come around full circle to a likely reflection what extremely ancient rites might have looked like. But from North America it was next to impossible to find Aboriginal testimony about these paintings....
Welcome to a new year according to the Gregorian calendar. Before diving in to what inspires me at this current point of time and space, may I share how grateful I am for you? There is a driving force behind what it is we are doing “out here” and the greater messages being brought forth are so gentle, beautiful, creative, collective. May this year manifest all of this for you and much more!
Bear energy runs strong through my foundation and Spirit wishes for me to learn her ways: how she moves and shapes her world, how she shares her wisdom, how her way of seeing embraces all those who have come before and those who are of the next generation and beyond. There is a closeness, an intimacy I feel with this essence and I cherish the connection. Bear moves methodically – nose close to the earth, raised to the heavens, smelling, sensing, Knowing. She is inquisitive and playful, yet she also carries a grounded sense of responsibility and will not waste effort letting you know where she stands. She is a fierce lover and will protect those she loves at all costs if need be. She inherently follows the rhythms of the seasons and delights in filling her physical being with the sweetness of the land when the energies run high in summer and gives herself permission to slumber deeply within the darkness come winter.
I was blessed to spend the entire weekend of Winter Solstice in ceremony with WomenSisters and Bear made her presence known immediately. Those of us who attended offered witness to each other’s celebrations and strife through the year and invited clarity for the year to come. We are blessed to sit within a beautiful community of men and women who invite each other to create a word that we will then carry through the course of the following year. “Allow” was my companion for 2013 and it served me well. Bear whispered. “Nourishment” is what has come in for 2014 and I am ready to embrace it on all levels. It begins with nourishing myself, and then offering nourishment for those in my life who are ready to receive it.
The first manifestation of this new year beckons the Bear within me to be still for these months encrusted in ice and snow. I am loving it. For as long as I’ve been consciously following the natural rhythms of the seasons, I do not yet remember a time when I’ve been this intentional with the process of what these months provide in the way of opening a doorway into a secret place within the soul. It is a dark, soft, and quiet place where solitude and rest nourish the cornerstones of my very existence.
See, this all started when Bear began to tap me on the shoulder during the summer months and whispered in my ear as the light began to fade in autumn. As winter quickly approached, she rolled her great head from side to side, danced anxiously in the waning light, pawing at the ground, and finally uttered a guttural rumble reminding me over and over again to follow the course of my natural rhythms. I had no choice but to surrender and follow her into her dwelling. And here I am to remain till the earth thaws and spring birds return.
The depth and darkness of winter has inspired me to follow the energies as they wane and dive deep beneath the surface of the soil. Everything has slowed to a reverent pace. I feel spaces within me healing; small patches within the soul that I have been meaning to mend for a very long time, held together with safety pins of excuses. Bear sits next to me in the candlelight – nose close to the earth, raised to the heavens, smelling, sensing, Knowing. I smile back in gratitude for what she is teaching me about myself.
May we all embody happiness, honesty, and be of maximum service to others.
May we all express a deep appreciation, genuine love, and respect for one another.